Are the Falcons the best 0-2 team?

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After ending the season on a 6-2 run in 2019, there was much belief that the Falcons would carry that success into the new season. That hasn’t happened, and now they will be fighting uphill the rest of the season. Since 2002, only 16 of the 148 teams who made the playoffs started off 0-2.

While that may seem daunting, the Falcons are only one game off the division lead and have a 21% chance of making it to the postseason. This is primarily because the NFL added a seventh team to the playoffs. The Falcons also have a favorable run of games after they face Green Bay in Week 4. I don’t need to stress how desperately this team needs to get above water before the bye week. The back half of the schedule looks even more brutal as this season is progressing.

After two weeks, the Falcons have the worst defense in the league. Allowing nearly 800 yards passing through two games is abysmal. However, let’s not forget that the Falcons faced off against the MVP front runner in Seattle and one of the league’s best passing games in Dallas. The defense held their own in the first half versus the Seahawks. However, a fumbled 4th down conversion and a 4th down go route by D.K. Metcalf changed the course of the game.

Either way, the Falcons won’t be seeing these high-powered offenses every week. So, it’s likely that once they shake off the rust from not having a preseason, this defense could suffice after the bye week.

The offense tells a different story. Through two games, Matt Ryan has 723 yards passing and six scores. This is enough to be second in both categories. The Falcons even showed their offense can succeed without Julio Jones being the main target, which could become even more evident in Week 3 as Jones is questionable to play. On the contrary, while Atlanta features one of the best passing offenses in the league, the run game is as lackluster as ever. We have yet to see the benefits of signing former LA Rams running back Todd Gurley, and even though the Bears are giving up four yards per carry, this isn’t exactly a favorable matchup, given how abysmal Atlanta’s offensive line has been at run blocking. 

It’s hard enough to be a one-dimensional offense in the NFL. Once you add being one dimensional overall — no run game or pass defense — it is almost impossible to win. 

However, out of all 0-2 teams, it’s a flip of a coin between Atlanta and Houston, in my opinion. When up against Kansas City and Baltimore in back to back weeks — as the Texans were — with no preseason, 0-2 is almost expected. Deshaun Watson is still one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, but he’s no longer in a position to succeed. Bill O’Brien left Watson with mediocre weapons when he traded away DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson, and the Texans’ offensive line is awful. Watson has been sacked eight times, tied for the most in the league. 

The Falcons passing offense isn’t enough to carry this team on its own. Until the run game and defense step up, it’ll be hard for them to compete. Nonetheless, Week 3 has started off on the right foot for teams 0-2. The Dolphins won their first game of the season against the Jaguars on Thursday Night Football. Hopefully, the Falcons can follow suit at home. 

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